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Paranormal Sixx is very excited for the unique priviledge to conduct a private investigation at the beautiful Van Horn Mansion in Bert, NY  !
Stay tuned for postings, live feeds, evidence and photos!

Please take a moment to read a little more about The Mansion below and visit the Newfane Historical Society's website for more information.

If you haven't yet visited here, it is indeed a must see!
If you have had the amazing experience of touring or investigating this location, please email us at paranormalsixx@yahoo.com as we would love to hear about your stay and your evidence!

Our sincerest thanks to the Newfane Historical Society and Beyond Ghosts for entrusting us with this location.
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Paranormal Sixx

  Newfane Historical Society

Beyond Ghosts   

Image taken by and is property of Deidre Emminger and Paranormal Sixx.
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About the Mansion
Information below taken directly from the Newfane Historical Society website at: http://www.newfanehistoricalsociety.com/vanhornmansion_about.html
Click here for the full version!


The Story of the Van Horn Family & Mansion

The Founders
The history of the Van Horn Family is both a fascinating and classic American story: A pioneer family who earned riches from dreams and hard work, yet lived through plenty of hardships, heartaches and scandals. This can also describe their homestead, which was built by the first Van Horn to settle in Niagara County.

James Augustus Van Horn was born in New Jersey in 1770. He became a blacksmith and settled with his wife, Elizabeth Hall, and their three surviving children: Daniel, Cornelius and Sallie. They moved to Seneca County, NY around the turn of the century. At age 31, James purchased 637 acres south of Lake Ontario from the Holland Land Company (1801). As a rule you could not take possession of your property until it was paid in full and so James, like most new land owners of the day, would take many years to pay it off and move.

Sadly, in 1807, Elizabeth passed away. Almost immediately James married his second wife, Abigail Carpenter. Together they would have six surviving children: James Jr., Launey, John, Caroline, Elizabeth and Burt (they lost two other children in infancy). Their first decade of marriage was very remarkable. In 1808, James and Abigail had their first child, James Van Horn Jr. James visited his new property in Niagara County for the first time in 1809, alongside business partner Levi Ellis. Both arrived from Seneca County with plans to build a new water-powered grist mill along Eighteen Mile Creek (to sell flour).

Construction began in 1810, around the same time James' son Launey was born. Unfortunately all the workers would become very ill with swamp fever. The project was abandoned before winter, leaving the men to return to their lives in Seneca County. James would not give up however, returning alone the next year to complete construction and put it into operation. Around this same time he also built a small log cabin home nearby, and a second business: a sawmill.
James decided that until the businesses were strong, his family would remain in Seneca County. One major reason may have been the continuing wide-spread illnesses in Niagara County, due to the large amount of swamp-land at the time (the land was drained properly in 1823 by the state, eradicating the health problems). And so his wife and children occasionally visited their Newfane estate, but on record and for daily life remained in Seneca County.

When the War of 1812 erupted, many settlers left the area but James Van Horn remained. James began sending flour from his mill to support the American garrison at Fort Niagara. March of 1813 would see the arrival of Abagail’s third and James’ sixth child, John Van Horn. December of that same year, at the height of the war, the British, with indigenous allies and Tories (sympathizers of the British party) headed to Eighteen Mile Creek. They had orders to destroy all before them west of the creek. They burned homes, mills and factories, leaving the settlers to the mercy of the woods and harsh temperatures.

The British attacks spared most families and property east of the creek, but had orders to burn the Van Horn's mills, which were considered “military targets” since they were supplying Fort Niagara with flour. All of their supplies were confiscated except for a tiny portion of flour. The mill and everything remaining inside was burned to the ground. Yet the British spared the family home; some believe this was because the Van Horns were very diplomatic towards the invaders and entertained them with food and brandy. Regardless of what happened, with the businesses now gone James chose to return to his family and the safety of Seneca County.

In 1817 with the war behind them, James started over with Ira Tompkins, a new partner and millwright. They rebuilt the grist mill and over the next decade a brickyard, small general store and sawmill (he would rebuild the grist mill again, after a fire in the 1830s). James also began preparations to build a large home for his family, which was staying more frequently in town. By 1819 the entire family officially settled at their log cabin home in Newfane. That same year he began construction on what would become the first brick building in the area, known today as the Van Horn Mansion. The new home was south of the family home, made using bricks from his own brickyard, and it took four years to complete. 1823 would also see the birth of James' youngest child, Burt.

Their new home was an immense structure, fitting for their affluent family. The style was Federal/ Greek, and the original structure was a two story dwelling plus basement, with four rooms on each floor, a pitched roof, and a stairway to the second floor in the hallway located in the center of the home. There were four fireplaces on each floor, with a possible summer kitchen in the basement.

James, now in his fifties, held ownership of 673 acres of property (460 east of the creek, 213 on the west side). He entrusted much of the family business and property to his sons, better known by the business name Van Horn and Company. With their help, the family farm and businesses also grew with the addition of a small wheat farm, distillery, woolen mill with a clothing shop and a few other mills. Because of the many mills, locals started calling the region south of Kempville both Van Horn Mills, and Millville.

James began to spend more time in local politics and the growth of their community. His estate would host the first town meeting on April 6, 1824. They named their new official township New Fane, chosen by Abagail Van Horn. The name was inspired by her hometown of Newfane, Vermont (named for Earl John Fane). James would eventually become the third Town Supervisor (1832). Their mansion also housed the town of Newfane offices in its earliest days, until the town grew much larger and they were moved to Main Street.

He was an active leader at the local Baptist church, and their meetings were also held at his home before the church was built. During this time the church held baptisms across the road from the home, along the banks of Eighteen Mile Creek. James Van Horn would also serve as a member of the New York State Assembly and a Niagara County judge. In his remaining years, James sold the family home to son Burt, and then he and Abagail returned to Seneca County, both passing away in 1856.

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